Gigs, dance, art

May 16th, 2009: Elsie Else Festival

@instants chavirés

I’m running so late in posting this, from a combination of being busy on all fronts and also some mixed feelings toward this blogging thing. I guess I’ll just catch up fast and take it from there.

Just like last year, I really liked the Elsie Else festival because it featured pretty diverse acts, a lot of which were quite different from the music I usually listen too. And just like last year, Toba was again my favorite. I don’t really know why, as her music is not my usual experimental fare. Maybe part of the reason is that even though it’s far more immediately accessible than that, there’s still enough going on beyond that surface. Anyway, I love her music, do I need a reason? Far too often lately, I feel I’ve been overthinking it, and needed some intellectual appreciation to like a show — that comes with some of the territory. So I’m a bit relieved to be able to just like music without reason or justification. Then again, maybe I should analyze it a little, a convenient excuse to be on the lookout for another show.

I guess I was not in a thinking mood anyway, because I didn’t put up any kind of fight to get into Bird and Bear‘s music, though I did appreciate it more than last year. Nicely done, but just not my kind of thing, just too nice and poppy for me. For no good reason at all, I was expecting something more extreme from 12 Dog Cycle, probably from reading about Alice Hui-Sheng Chang‘s “extended vocal technique”. It was actually quite subdued and interesting, especially in how the voice would interact with the music. A bit too short actually, maybe because she didn’t really step in early enough. Worth checking out again.

DinahBird‘s was my second favorite set, closer maybe to some of the stuff I’m used to, and with a polished quality that somehow didn’t bother me at all. Diverse elements put together that I’m used to hear in different contexts. Again I wouldn’t have minded that set lasting longer, so I’d like to hear her again. That set probably didn’t help me to like the next one, as Jean-Philippe Renoult sounded far too close to things I’ve heard before, with a seriousness about it that just didn’t sit well with the rest of the event for me and just put me off.

Un escargot vide? delivered a set that was consistent with last year’s, again with children voices but I just liked it better, for some reason I didn’t focus as much on the annoying element these are for me, and the rest was pretty good. Missed the likembe though. The sheer number of acts was taking it’s toll as well, it probably would have taken something more unusual than ZRL to get my attention at this point. The final set brought Sonic Surgeon and Futsukayoi Kaprikorn together, and that was a nice move in that they are quite different. Sonic Surgeon worked more with voice and effects, with a definitely punk flavor nonetheless, and that contrasted with the video game sounds quite nicely. I felt it didn’t quite reach its potential though, but again it had been a long day — and week, and month — so I was probably burned out.

May 22, 2009 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

June 28th, 2008: Elsie Else festival

@instants chavirés

I haven’t posted in a while for several reasons. One is the winding down of the season, with dance already done and gigs slowing down — I just don’t go to arena-like events anymore. Another is a computer meltdown that knocked me out, which also kept me in the dark about most gigs going on.

Anyway, catch up time now, starting with this festival. I don’t know anything about Elsie Else, a couple of familiar faces but I haven’t even checked out their site yet. My memories of the actual music tend to have faded by now, leaving me with shreds of words that I remember thinking then. Of course there being nine sets isn’t helping now.

YuJun Ye started  her set by layering her own voice while counting, then went on to add some beats to the less extreme layering. I do love that stuff, and it had its moments — thanks in part to her voice which I happened to like — but it seemed tentative and lacking some sense of direction somehow. Might be worth checking out in a year or so? Bird and bear used a lot of toys and toyish keyboard sounds, with almost Newsomish vocals. I didn’t like it, probably too pop and nice for me, and I’m suffering from a bad case of toy overload right now.

Toba turned out to be my favorite set of the festival, even though I missed the beginning. Maybe her playing with the lights out helped, but something enabled me to really get into her music and hear something fresh and new in there. I hope I get to hear her again, maybe I’ll be better at describing then.

Alexandre Navarro played guitar, with quite a lot of feedback at times — not that I mind. It had a SigurRosish feel to it, especially in the beginning, even though no bow was involved; maybe something lyrical to it, I just can’t remember why that name popped in my head. Nice set, I just wish it had been a bit rougher. Ecoplan was the most frustrating of all the sets. Laptop music that kept feeling as if it was on the edge of a breakthrough but never quite delivered, switching to something else instead. Too bad because this guys looks like he has a bunch of interesting ideas, but I wish he would go just a bit deeper with some, or just switch and mix them all faster; it just felt like a lukewarm middle ground to me.

Yannick Franck started with the familiar sound of bow on metal, and I felt like he was right at home in this place. Actually it was not exactly the free improv stuff I’m used to, because he had a lot of pedals and electronics as well. Quite nice, but probably too long, or more accurately lacking a more assertive trajectory, or interactions with others who could have thrown a few wrenches. Unfortunately, I draw an almost complete blank on cbaonet. That sucks, but I only have hazy memories of a somewhat interesting use of voice samples and that’s it.

Emmanuelle Gibello was the cleanest sounding of the event, and that was a good thing because her set felt to me as all about sound. Probably worth hearing in a different setting, but interesting, if a bit cold and somewhat too clean. I think that comes from the setting — a diverse festival with probably didn’t require that much focus — and by the time I switched to a better frame of mind, it was almost over. And finally Un escargot vide? who had the fine idea of using a likembe at times. I must say I was put off by his use of a child’s voice though, that was grating to me and distracted me enough to spoil the second half of the set. The first one was OK though.

So that’s all I could coax from my old brain cells. I think I want to know more about these people and Elsie Else, and probably check them out for other gigs, they do seem interesting people with — relatively — diverse musical interests.

July 5, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment